Sheriff says no excessive force, attorney disagrees

A screen shot of the video showing the altercation between Charles Moody and Deputy Troy A. Curry with the Forsyth County Sheriff's Department.

Sheriff says no excessive force, attorney disagrees
July 01
11:32 2020

Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough and others have concluded that the deputy involved in the incident at Cooks Flea Market did everything he could to avoid an altercation and that it wasn’t a case of racial profiling.  

Here’s what we know: On Saturday, June 27, Charles Moody, who is Black, was arrested by a deputy with the Forsyth County Sherriff’s Office at the Cooks Flea Market, apparently because he wasn’t wearing a mask or face covering. Earlier in the week, Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order that made wearing a face mask a requirement in all public places. 

A video recorded by another customer that has been viewed more than 400,000 times and shared by people across the country, begins with the deputy with one hand on the back Moody’s neck and another holding his right arm. The deputy asks Moody to put his hands behind his back. Moody responds by telling the deputy he hasn’t done anything wrong, and that’s when the officer tries wrestling Moody to the ground and a scuffle breaks out. The video also shows two civilians, one white and the other Black, trying to help the deputy. 

Eventually he was arrested, taken to the Forsyth County Jail. He was later released on a written promise to appear in court for charges of resisting arrest and trespassing. 

Moody says he was only inside the Cooks Flea Market five minutes before the altercation with the deputy. He said he never refused to wear a mask and was never asked to leave. “Not one time did I refuse to wear a mask,” Moody said during a video posted on his Facebook page. 

He said he was going to the flea market to buy tires for his car from a vendor located outside the flea market and went inside to use the ATM to get cash to pay for his tires. Moody said he walked straight to the ATM and that’s when he was approached by the Black man who appears to be helping the deputy in the video. 

He says he told the man he would buy a mask after he got money out the ATM and the man went back to what he was doing, while Moody continued to try to get money out of the ATM. That’s when he says he was approached by the white man who also told him about the mask requirement. Moody said he told the white man the same thing he told the Black man and he also walked off. 

Moody said the ATM still wouldn’t work so he started searching for another one and that’s when he noticed the deputy following him. He said he didn’t say anything to the deputy but he continued walking. “And that’s when he said, didn’t I tell you to leave,” Moody said. He said he told the deputy that the men told him he needed to buy a mask, but never told him he had to leave. Moody also mentioned that there were several other people inside the flea market who weren’t wearing masks. 

“We’re still walking and he’s like, no they told you to leave,” Moody continued. “He wasn’t trying to hear any of it … he grabs my arm and pulls me towards him.”

Moody said that’s when the scuffle with the officer began.

On Monday, June 29, Sheriff Kimbrough held a press conference to shed more light on the incident and discuss the footage that was obtained from Deputy Troy A. Curry’s body camera. According to the report filed by Curry, Moody was approached while he was attempting to use an ATM and told about the mask requirement. Curry says Moody was told where he could purchase a mask and also offered him a free mask, but he didn’t want to wear it. 

The report says he told Moody several times that if he didn’t wear the face mask that he would have leave the premises immediately, but he refused to leave or wear the mask. Kimbrough says the body camera footage shows Deputy Curry asking Moody to leave and that he was trespassing at least five times. “At that point, it’s a legal issue, it wasn’t about the face mask,” Kimbrough said during the press conference. He said the viral video that has been shared thousands of times on social media doesn’t tell the whole story. He said the incident was not a racial issue or an excessive use of force.

“What you didn’t see was the racial slurs that were hurled. What you didn’t see was the vulgarity that he said to not only the officer, but the people; what you didn’t see was what he said they could do with their mouth to his genital area. What you didn’t see was the venom that he put out,” Kimbrough said. “And here’s what I want you to understand: if my guys are wrong, l’ll be the first one to check them because before I was the sheriff, before I was an agent, I was a Black man.”

Although body camera footage can only be released to the public if allowed by a judge or the person or people in the video, Kimbrough did allow several people from the community to view the body camera footage. He said Rev. Alvin Carlisle, president of the Winston-Salem NAACP, Bishop Todd Fulton, member and former president of the Minsters’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity, James Perry, president and CEO of the Winston-Salem Urban League, and local activist Al Jabaar, all viewed the footage and sided with Kimbrough during the press conference. 

Rev. Carlisle said he believes the officer did everything he could to avoid an altercation. He said, “We’re satisfied that the suspect was given many opportunities to comply with the laws and standards that we all have to deal with during this COVID-19 crisis.”

Fulton, who is chair of the Ministers’ Conference social justice committee, said he finds no fault in the way the officer handled this situation. 

“The truth is the man was not violated for not wearing a mask,” Fulton said. “The truth is this officer did not just go up to him, throw him to the ground, cuff him and abuse him and violate him for not wearing a mask. On the tape this gentleman had several opportunities to de-escalate, this gentleman had several opportunities to leave the premises.”

Perry said like many people in the community, when he saw the viral video he was angry and immediately contacted Sheriff Kimbrough. He said after viewing the body camera’s footage, in his opinion it wasn’t an issue of racial profiling or excessive use of force. 

Perry said his greatest frustration was that state law prevents the body camera footage from being released to the public. 

“Body cameras can do two things: on one hand they can prove when there’s wrongdoing by police officers. But they can also prove when a police officer or in this case a sheriff’s deputy has done the right thing. Unfortunately, this is video that is unlikely to be shared with the public,” Perry continued. “When I looked at this tape I realized that there are more important things that we can focus on when it comes to civil rights and opportunity in this community.” 

Al Jabaar, who is known throughout the community for pushing for racial equality, said the sheriff’s office acted in accordance to policy. He said, “Being 72 years and born and raised in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, I certainly have a history of what it means to be racially profiled. But this tape that I watched today with no uncertainty shows very clear to me that the sheriff’s department acted according to the policy that they have been held accountable for.”  

In a statement released Tuesday night, James Quander, Moody’s attorney, said the hold Deputy Curry used was not authorized by the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office and therefore should be considered excessive force. He also said his client was respectful with the deputy and others in the flea market before he was arrested. The statement reads, “After aggressively approaching Charles regarding a request to wear a mask, placing his left hand on the back of Charles’ neck, pushing the base of his neck forward, while holding the lower part of his body with his right arm.

It is our belief that this hold is not authorized or trained by the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Department and therefore constitutes excessive force. Prior to being physically assaulted by the deputy and the civilian who assisted the deputy, Charles was respectful in his mannerisms and communication to all people he encountered during his short time in Cook’s Flea Market.”

Quander is expected to hold a press conference today (July 1) at 1 p.m. in front of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, 301 N. Church Street. 

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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